The awakening of a Storm.
To name a Warp Dragon.
Looking back and looking forward.
War's Final Gathering.
And now, finally! Here it is, the first AoD battle for Nestir V's Round 4.
The Wolf and the Moon
Written by Chaptermaster Graymantle
Neigorath of the Black Legion (Neigorath)
Hakon Greymane of the Space Wolves (Cry Wolf)
With their gathering completed successfully and the enemy coming in fast, the Imperial leaders had each gone to their own, trusting in their skills, their troops and each other to complete their missions. The Eighth Battle Fleet of the Guardian Angels was chasing after the Steel Dragons' Gladius Class Firgate Flamestorm, their warriors ready onboard Thunderhawks and Caestus Assault Rams, to lead a boarding action against the enemy. The Sons of Doom had largely driven the remaining Eldar Corsairs off and were moving in to support the landing of Imperial Guard troops above Nestir V, while the Battle Barge Falcon of Achilleus and the Legio were repositioning themselves to support the landings.
On the other side, the Steel Dragons' Slaughter Class Cruiser Grantos, and the World Eaters Infidel Class Raider “Predator of Blood” had set a course for the gathering of Imperial ships over the planet. These capital ships had been reinforced by the few remaining escorts from Sauel the Apostle's fleet, which were all small and already badly damaged. To the dismay of the Chaos forces, they had also confirmed Saul's death during the regrouping.
Everkill's ship, the Consultant of Mayhem was holding back a bit, trying to discern where best to lend it's supporting strength, while Neigorath's ship, the Malevolent Spirit had relocated to carry out a few quick emergency repairs above Nestir V's white moon, Alba.
While the Malevolant Spirit had destroyed the main supply ship of the Imperial Crusade and crippled their flagship, the Bloodied Scion had been able to deliver half a broadside back at the Malevolent Spirit, taking down some of her shields and even delivering a good amount of damage. The shockwave following the destruction of the Divine Messenger had also caused some minor damage to the ship, so before heading back into the action, Neigorath had ordered emergency repairs to be carried out outside the main battle zone.
Now however, the Stormwolf was moving towards Alba to engage the Chaos Ship directly. Essentially the Space Wolves were taking the battle zone to the Malevolent Spirit, and there was nowhere to hide. This suited Neigorath fine however, as he had learned that the Stormwolf was the new Imperial Flagship, and he felt more than eager to take it apart like he had taken the Divine Messenger apart. Having crippled the Imperials' former flagship already, Neigotrath had no doubt he could do the same to their new flagship as well.
The Malevolent Spirit's own close support vessels, and her stealth-cloaked bombers were already launched and ready to receive the enemy, so as the Stormwolf approached, the skilled interceptor pilots began harassing her. They had already proven their mettle when they decimated the Imperial close quarters support wings and shot down their wing leader around the Bloodied Scion, but the venerable Space Wolf vessel didn't seem to be particularly bothered by them, as it's perimeter defence weapons began swatting the fighters out of the air. Only the Malevolent Spirit's stealth bombers seemed to make any impact at all, and even those were largely no more than a nuisance.
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Back on the bridge of the Malevolent Spirit, Neigorath felt his mighty ship heave as a massive volley of missiles suddenly impacted on his ship's shields and screaming klaxons warned everyone onboard that their primary shield had just collapsed. Neigorath was infuriated by this surprise attack, and not understanding how the Space Wolves had managed to sneak such a volley of missiles past all his defences, he raged against the crew on his bridge, ordering them to reinforce the remaining shields and to get the ship turned about to face the enemy properly. He also ordered them to turn the warning klaxons off, and just as he did so, the main screen on his bridge flickered to life with the face of a hairy Space Wolf. “How does it feel Chaos filth?”, Lord Hakon Greymane asked with a wide grin. “To have your own tactics of stealth and diversion turned against you?”.
Neigorath only stared at the screen for a moment, wondering how this barbarian had duped his skilled crew, fooled his ship's augers and broken through his comms system's security measures. “What's the matter traitor?”, Greymane continued. “Wolf got your tongue, or are you just to terrified to answer? - I know you should be, now that the master Space Marine hunters have got the scent of you. - It is not for nothing that we are the Emperor's first choice for this sort of task. - To hunt down and kill traitors!”. The Space Wolf snarled at him, and Neigorath could see that everyone on the bridge was expecting a retort to the taunt. Contacting the enemy to brag was usually a tactic he himself used, and now the tables were turned. He had been taken aback for a moment, but looking at his crew with a sly smile, he approached the view screen to better present himself. “I am Lord Neigorath of the Black Legion, loyal servant of Abaddon, seconded to Lord Adramalech of Nestir V”, he said. “And you. - You are a barbarian who forgets all the codes of old and do not even have the common courtesy to present yourself”.
Greymane snarled in reply. “I am no barbarian traitor! I am Lord Hakon Greymane of the Space Wolves, and I am here to pound you and your whole Emperor forsaken crew into oblivion. - I want to make you bleed!”.
"Ah, Space Wolf?”, Neigorath replied in the most arrogant way he could muster. “I remember your kind. Leman was fierce and strong, yet undisciplined and almost feral at times. You remind me of him”. Neigorath paused for a second to see how the Space Wolf would react, but he didn't seem to care for the hint of mock flattery. “Our Father spoke of him at times you know. Of how alike, yet how different our two Legions were, even though both bore the symbol of a wolf".
“We are nothing like you”, Greymane growled. “You turned your back on the Emperor and on all that is good. We would never do that!”.
"Ah, yes!”, Neigorath smiled in return. “The good old days. I sometimes feel I spend to much time remember those days, even when they are long since lost. Now, we stand as foes, forever opposed to one another in an endless cycle of hate and bloodshed. Perhaps one day we shall see who prevails, the Legions of Horus or the Legions of the Corpse-Upon-The-Throne".
“That day will come sooner than you think traitor”, Greymane said with a glint in his eye. “In fact it is already here!”. At that final remark the image of Greymane shimmered for a moment and was replaced by static instead. Then a rapid set of shock waves thundered through Neigorath's ship and klaxons went off once more. A quick glance over the Malevolent Spirit's damage readout showed that her primary shield was entirely gone and that her secondary shields had been weakened to the point where enemies could pass through them. In fact the readouts showed that several enemies already had. More than two dozen boarding torpedoes had smashed through the hull of the Spirit on five different decks, and both pict captures and vox transmissions clearly painted a picture of a ship that had been boarded. Neigorath cursed. The Wolves had used his own trick against him! Distracting his crew and himself while stealthily moving in for the kill. It was not a tactic he had expected from a Space Wolf, and worse yet, one pict capture showed that very Space Wolf onboard his ship right at that very moment.
Neigorath located the place that the enemy leader had come on board at as the bottom observation chamber, and he could see the Space Wolves there heavily engaged in a terrible battle against his security gangs. The ship's defenders would not last long without help though, so Neigorath quickly gathered his best warriors to his side and went out hunting for the enemy.
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A few minutes later Neigorath and his men stepped into the main observation hall at the bottom of the ship. Clad in their ornate Terminator Armour of black and gold, the tusked Chaos Terminators waded into the firefight to lend their weight to the ship's defenders. The grand observation hall was a mess, with two boarding torpedoes having crashed their way through the ship's bulkhead before a shimmering Lathe pattern energy shield had finally creating a hard seal around the breaches.
Neigorath immediately spotted the enemy leader at the side of the hall, framed by huge gothic windows that majestically showed off the glowing moon of Alba like an enormous, magnificent orb below the ship. The Wolf and the moon, Neigorath thought. A fitting setting for both their Legions. With that thought he strode into battle and started making his way for Lord Greymane.
Lord Haakon Greymane on his side was stabbing left and right with his master crafted Lightening Claws. He and his warriors had taken down over a hundred and forty defenders already, but the flow of enemies just didn't seem to stop. He swung left, then sliced across with his right claw, neatly taking the head off an enemy soldier. Beside him his other Wolf brothers howled and snarled as they danced through the deck in a bloody show of feral power. Greymane instinctively dove to one side as a deck-hand opened fire on him with a rough looking shotgun, and a kinetic explosion smashed into his side. Luckily his age-old Terminator Armour protected him from the powerful shot, and as he came back up he swung about to slice another two enemy soldiers apart.
That is when he noticed the stench of Chaos Marines in the room. He cast his gaze about and saw Chaos Terminators moving towards him and his Wolves. The black, ornate tactical dreadnought armour of the enemy warriors were lined with gold, marking them as traitors of the Black Legion. Great tusks extended from their helmets and the leader, who had presented himself as Neigorath, wore a red cloak draped across his shoulders. He walked with the stride of a man completely sure in himself, with crackling lightning claws ready at his sides. Greymane noticed however that the Chaos Marine's Terminator Armour had been damaged in previous encounters, leaving openings he could exploit. A gash had been clawed down one side, and thick claw marks were prominent across Nigorath's chest, where the ceramite armour was also partially crushed. None of this seemed to bother the Chaos Lord though as he strode confidently straight for Greymane, the defending crewmen of the Malevolent Spirit quickly getting out of the way of the ship's Lord and Master as he approached.
In the meantime Neigorath's warriors and the rest of the ship's defenders set to work on Greymane's Wolves, who met them all with a howl of bloodlust. None of the Malevolant Spirit's defenders dared touch Greymane himself though, and it was clear that he was Neigorath's personal opponent of choice. There was no doubt that they would face each other uninterrupted by the battle raging all around them.
Finally Neigorath reached Greymane's position, and Greymane stood ready to receive him. Surprisingly though, Neigorath didn't openly attack. Instead he stopped and bowed in a warrior's salute. “You have my respect Space Wolf!”, he said. “Few could have done what you did today in sneaking up on me and my ship while using my own tactics against me”. “Well”, Greymane retorted, ready for a fight. “I guess I'm just gonna have to educate you on how to properly beat the outta someone!”.
Neigorath sighed, shaking his head slightly in sadness at how uncivil the world of warriors had become. “Very well then pup!”, he spat. “Prepare to die! - I will raise a mug to your memory once I'm done with you".
Greymane was ready for him to be sure, but even so, Neigorath was the faster. From his seemingly relaxed pose for a respectful talk warrior to warrior, Neigorath sprang forward and raked his claws across Greymane's chest, leaving a set of deep gashes in the ceramite and metal. Greymane reeled back and drew in breath in a surprised hiss. Damned but the Chaos Lord was fast. The two Terminators circled each other slowly, and Neigorath smiled confidently, baiting Greymane in for an attack. The Space Wolf Lord was more than happy to oblige, and launched himself at his enemy, claws extended and crackling. He swiped at Neigorath's chest as he whirled past and Neigorath brought up his own claws to block. Even so, Greymane was on him again in an instant and smashed into his already damaged front plate armour, leaving Neigorath staggering under the blow.
Then Greymane danced around him again, circling much like a wolf would circle it's prey. There was murder in his eye, and as he stepped in again, he gave a mighty roar. A claw went high in a feint, then the other stabbed in to cleave Neigorath's chest in twain, but Neigorath had already anticipated the move, effortlessly blocking it with his own free claw. Following the block, Neigorath swiped across with his other arm, but Greymane dodged low and Neigorath had to give a roar of mingled rage and pain as one crackling lightning claw reached his flesh. Greymane swiped at him again, then came in close and Neigorath could feel another set of cuts burning him.
Then out of the blue Greymane smashed into Neigorath to grab him, and quickly brought him in to eye level. Neigorath spat and tried to pull away, but Greymane held firmly, locking the Chaos Lord's free power claw in his own. "What's the matter old man?" Greymane laughed as he felt Neigorath struggling to pull away. "Not scared, are ya?". He brought the Chaos Lord even closer in towards his grinning face, clearly displaying his fangs and softly, yet menacingly he said, "You should be!". Then Neigorath felt himself being pushed away again and found the Space Wolf Lord standing a mere few steps away with an infuriating grin on his face.
Neigorath couldn't take it. He rushed in at his enemy again and the two locked in deadly combat. Power claw raked against power claw as the battle continued. Then to Greymane's great surprise, the Chaos Lord suddenly began to get the upper hand. As a fury of blows finally scored a proper hit on Greymane, he could feel searing hot pain shooting into his body, making him loose his balance for a moment. Then a rip to the side of his face opened three long furrows down the skin of his cheek as a slice of one claw graced him. Greymane felt his temper begin to boil over and he was coming awfully close to loosing control. A terrible thing raged and roared in his mind, ready to claw itself free, but Greymane was not about to let the monster wolf inside him win. He fought it, and luckily Neigorath chose just that moment to take a few steps back.
Greymane hissed again and dropped into a combative crouch. He was panting and snarling as he watched his enemy regard him curiously, and Greymane was suddenly aware of the battle raging all around them again as well. The huge glass dome that made up the observation deck of the ship he had boarded, and the huge moon hanging just to their side. It had moved, which meant the ship had moved, and this reminded Graymane that he had a mission to complete. One that was larger than this personal fight. Larger than the battle of the chamber. It was war on a massive scale, and all around them, enormous hulking ships of war were carrying out their own dance of death.
Neigorath still stood but a few paces away. He was injured, but Greymane felt that perhaps he himself was just as bad, if not worse. Yet for his injuries, the Chaos Lord looked almost bored, or disappointed. He shook his head in resignation. “No, no, no!”, he said, wiggling one clawed finger disapprovingly. “You know, Marines today just aren't what they used to be”. Lord Greymane felt control coming back to his mind, yet his every word was filled with icy rage as he answered that taunting claim. “I am precisely what I have always been”, he said, fighting his panting breath back under control. “You are not the only ancient one here arch traitor!”.
At those words, Neigorath narrowed his eyes. He had his suspicions, but still needed them confirmed. “So, you too are of the old days then?”, he asked. “And a Wolf to boot. Well, I know of only one sort of wolf that can achieve such a grand old age, and that is a cursed wolf”, Neigorath said with an evil smile playing across his face.
Greymane afforded him no answer, except a threatening growl as they circled each other. “Well, well, well!”, Neigorath continued. “So you are one of the accursed of the thirteenth then. - Well, it matters not, for ever since Guilliman destroyed the legions and pulled the teeth of the Astartes, there is no more strength left in any of you, Imperials”, he spat the last word as if though it was the most vile tasting poison, and Greymane felt ire rise in his mind once again. “Guilliman may have taken some teeth from the loyalists”, he answered. “But he replaced them with fangs!”
With that, Greymane bared his fangs in a menacing growl and pounded on Neigorath again, viciously clawing at the Chaos Lord's chest and leaving deep gouges in his armour. It had all been anticipated by Neigorath however, and he stepped away, blocking and coming back with his own attacks. He charged in, then suddenly reversed his momentum into a spin and opened a nasty wound in Greymane's side. Another set of blows connected and Greymane snarled, clawing his own way towards Neigorath, but Neigorath simply side-stepped and delivered a full on thrust with one claw. The snarling weapon penetrated Greymane's chest armour, and the Space Wolf fell aside, bounding off the armour-glass at his back before going down in a heap. Greymane struggled to get to his feet again, but he felt blood pouring out of his chest and he couldn't find the strength to rise.
Neigorath could see that the self-secure Space Wolf had taken his last step, and again he shook his head in disappointment. “You are as good as dead”, he said to Greymane, just as the entire ship lurched under a broadside. “You have lost this fight, your men are loosing the battle and your Imperial allies will loose Nestir V”, Neigorath continued as he walked closer to Greymane who was struggling on all fours. “You are dead and I commend your soul to the abyss”, he continued, as he stopped a mere couple of steps away. “Your blood would boil with terror Space Wolf, if only you knew the horrors I've seen, and now your soul will know all of them in horrible, tortured anguish”, Neigorath taunted.
Greymane was struggling to breath. He could hear the rush of blood in his ears and bloodlust was filling his mind, leaving his vision going dark to anything else. “My blood boils already”, he answered Neigorath, snapping his head up to look at him. Neigorath was taken aback at the coal black eyes of Greymane, and the wolfish look his face had suddenly acquired. “And I already know your horrors”, Greymane continued, the agony of the doomed in his voice. “For I am one of them!”, he growled and suddenly his armour began to change, just as his face and body began to reshape themselves.
Neigorath instinctively took another couple of steps back, as before his eyes, Greymane suddenly and painfully turned into a giant, humanoid wolf. The wolf howled at the full moon that was visible above the huge observation windows of the chamber now, and with claws extended Greymane pounced on Neigorath intending to finish the battle once and for all. He never reached the surprised Chaos Lord however, as a huge tear in the fabric of reality itself suddenly opened up behind Greymane, calling the unnatural wolf back to the hell from whence it had come. Greymane fought against it, trying to reach Neigorath with all his might. Yet for all his strength, the Chaos Lord remained just out of reach, and Greymane felt himself being sucked towards the Warp breach. He howled in frustration, managed one step forward, claws leaving deep furrows in the metal floor. Then he was pulled back by some unknowable force, as if yanked by an invisible chain. With a last howl of anguish he disappeared through the tear in reality and was gone in the darkness. A split second later, the tear itself disappeared in an ear-deafening thunderclap. Greymane was gone, and Neigorath was left perplexed. Yet it took no more than a few seconds for him to regain his composure. He had seen stranger things in his time, and he had no time to ponder the events surrounding the strange Space Wolf now. After all, he still had a battle and a war to win.
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Twelve minute later, Inquisitor Smith was located on the bridge of the Astral Ravens Battle Barge Falcon of Achilleus. They were still moving in to land troops above Nestir V when Smith had been called aside to witness the spectacle of the battle between the Malevolant Spirit and the Stormwolf above distant Alba. Having just witnessed a playback of the battle and the following explosions that crippled the Stormwolf, Smith did not look happy. “That is extremely, very not good!”, he blurted out at seeing the devastation and the Malevolent Spirit heading their way. The Chaos ship had left the decimated Stormwolf in a deteriorating orbit around Nestir V's white moon, but it was clear that the Chaos ship itself was also badly damaged. Even so, she had taken out both the Imperial flagships in a matter of hours, and the Imperial Crusade would need a new base of operations. “So I guess we're next in line”, Incompertus Ferratus of the Legio said, and Smith had to agree. “Yes!”, he said in a sour voice, looking straight at Ferratus. “We are now the flagship”.
And so we are left with either one or two battles for the whole of the AoD.
I already know what the result is by now, and I'm putting the finishing touches on the next story today.
You however, need to wait just a little bit longer to know who will win the Nestir V AoD.
Those remaining by the way, are:
Best of luck to everyone remaining!